LEAVING the European Union could present a number of problems - as well as some opportunities - for Wales' health services, a report has said.

The report by Public Health Wales outlines the potential impacts of Brexit - both positive and negative - on the health service in Wales.

It says the Welsh health sector could face serious staffing problems if EU-born workers are forced to leave the UK or prevented from working, warning this could be particularly acute in the social care sector and in academia, where "significant numbers" of staff are from the EU.

But it also says the loss of European workers will provide more opportunities for work and training for British people, and the removal of EU regulation provides an opportunity for the development of new regulations targeted specifically at the challenges faced by Wales.

The report also warns access to medication could be disrupted, while the UK may no longer be able to take part in new medication trials run or funded by the EU.


Ex-driving instructor guilty of rape is jailed

Police stop man attempting to cycle up the M4

Chepstow wassail draws large crowds as Mari Lwyd tradition proves popular

It also says problems with alcohol or smoking could be reduced due to increase in price and drop in income.

The report also warns the loss of EU employment regulations could leave employees more vulnerable to being exploited.

In its conclusion, the report said: "Progress is being made in Wales to ensure health and business continuity and to address immediate issues such as health protection and health security threats.

"There is a need now to think ahead of the immediate situation, in order to ensure longer term strategic thinking positions policy and investment according to the opportunities and assets highlighted above.

"Part of this requires fostering, co-ordinating and strengthening partnerships across the four UK nations, across Europe and globally to enhance existing collaborations and develop new ones.

"Whilst immediate collaborations may focus on policy, research and developments that mitigate detrimental consequences of Brexit, they should also provide a starting platform for inter-agency and international co-ordinated work for the future.

"The health and well-being impacts of Brexit (whether positive or negative) and emerging risks and opportunities need to be continually monitored and reflected in collaborative arrangements and work."


Newport's oldest department store Wildings closes doors for good

Newport 'Yellow Vest' protest attracts opposition

Dismay as proposed autism bill is rejected

Among the report's recommendations are for the health service and public bodies to work together to prepare for Brexit before it happens, as much as possible.

Director of policy, research and international development for Public Health Wales Professor Mark Bellis said: “As the final decisions are made on our relationship with Europe it is paramount that we consider how they will affect the health of our people and especially the health of those who are vulnerable to ill health through their reliance of health care, low levels of income or employment in sectors at risk through the Brexit process.

"Changes in the prosperity of Wales will fall hardest on such individuals and communities.

"This Health Impact Assessment is not a road map through Brexit but a check list for those navigating the process to ensure that the health and well-being of the people of Wales is considered at every juncture.”

And the organisation's principal health impact assessment development officer Liz Green said: “Predicting health outcomes is complex and difficult, even more so in the context of the shifting sands of the Brexit process.


Cwmbran VC hero John Fielding remembered at Llantarnam churchyard ceremony

Funeral date set for son of boxing legend David 'Bomber' Pearce

NOW&THEN: Can you guess where this Newport pub is located?

"The Health Impact Assessment is not an analysis of the type of Brexit position the UK should adopt.

"It is about informing decisions so that once a destination has been chosen it can be reached with the least harms and most benefits to health.

"Nevertheless, this report will provide plenty to think about for organisations in Wales.

"It highlights the need for action to maximise any potential opportunities for improving health and well-being in Wales following Brexit, as well as mitigating or preventing any possible negative impacts or unintended consequences.”